Public-safety policymakers OK Lieu bill to ban ‘street’ sales of animals from puppy mills, other sources

April 12, 2011
ABUSED ANIMALS -- The sale of animals through puppy mills and roadside venues would be banned under Sen. Lieu's SB 917.

SB 917 would also increase penalties for animal

A measure by Sen. Ted W. Lieu to help prevent animal abuse by banning their sale by on street corners and temporary retail venues while increasing penalties for animal neglect today passed its first policy test review.

Approved by the Senate Public Safety Committee, Senate Bill 917 now faces review by the Senate Appropriations Committee before undergoing a vote by the full Senate.

“Animal abuse is generally divided into two main categories: Animal cruelty, and animal neglect,” Lieu said. “Animal cruelty usually refers to a single act of harm on an animal. Animal neglect usually causes suffering that’s more extended or prolonged. Whether an animal is tortured or starved, too often the result is death. Either way, it’s a horrible way to die, and the penalties should be consistent.”

Because current health and safety regulations for animal sales do not apply to roadside sales, young animals are being sold that are often mistreated, ill or diseased and there’s no way to track the seller, Lieu said.

“My bill would remove the link between illegal puppy mills and the public by restricting the sale of pet animals on roadsides, parking lots and other outdoor venues.”

As written, SB 917 would also impose more consistent penalties for those convicted of animal cruelty and animal neglect by allowing a maximum sentence of up to one year in county jail for animal neglect and a fine of up to $20,000.

Lieu’s measure is co-sponsored by the State Humane Association of California, the Humane Society of the United Statesm the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Los Angeles SPCA.   

Senate Bill 917 -- Animal Protection

Animal abuse is a serious concern, and the awareness for this disturbing crime is growing. Animal abuse is separated into two main categories: animal cruelty and animal neglect. Animal cruelty generally refers to a single act of harm on an animal, while animal neglect is defined as an act that causes extended or prolonged suffering. While animal neglect can be considered a horribly egregious offense inflicting extensive distress to an animal, the associated penalty for the crime is inconsistent with that of animal cruelty.

Cases of animal neglect are prevalent, and it occurs when one deprives an animal of basic needs. These needs include shelter, nutrition and medical care. In a study of 1,400 animal cruelty cases conducted by the Humane Society of the United States, 41 percent of the cases involved animal neglect. This overwhelming number reiterates the importance of protecting animals from neglect as well as cruelty.

Whether animals are tortured or starved, too often the end result in either case is death. In cases of neglect, the abuse is more prolonged and the neglected animal ends up slowly decaying and suffering due to starvation, dehydration and/or disease.

Deficiency in current law:
In the California Penal Code, both animal cruelty and animal neglect are wobblers. Both offenses have potential felony charges; however the penalty for animal cruelty as a misdemeanor is up to one year in county jail and/or an associated fine (up to $20,000). While the fine for animal neglect is the same, the penalty for a misdemeanor offense is only punishable by a maximum of 6 months in jail. Although animal neglect causes prolonged agony and pain to the animals involved, the penalty is not proportional to the sentence for a single act of animal cruelty.

Senate Bill 917 would make the laws for animal cruelty and animal neglect more consistent by providing a maximum sentence for up to one year in county jail for animal neglect, as well as a possible fine up to $20,000. This measure will provide parity to current law while reflecting the true nature of this heinous crime.


  • American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)
  • Los Angeles Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (spcaLA)
  • State Humane Association of California



  • Amador County Animal Control
  • California District Attorneys Association
  • Central California SPCA
  • Haven Humane Society
  • Los Angeles County District Attorney
  • Marin Humane Society
  • Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA
  • SPCA for Monterey County
  • The Humane Society of the United States
  • San Diego Humane Society and SPCA

Policy - Jeff Gozzo; Press -  Ray Sotero (916) 651-4028